E-scooter operator announced for West of England trial scheme

Residents and visitors will soon be able to get around the West of England on e-scooters after Regional Mayor Tim Bowles announced the name of the company appointed to deliver the region’s e-scooter trials.

Voi Technology Ltd will be making hop-on hop-off e-scooters available in Bristol and Bath to help residents and visitors to get around central areas. E-scooters will also be available at other key locations in South Gloucestershire such as stations, university campuses, hospitals and large employment sites.

Voi will also run a longer-term rental scheme; allowing residents to take e-scooters home and use them for journeys on a longer-term basis, giving confidence that they can get to and from their destinations during times when bus and train capacity is limited.

The 12-month e-scooter trial is being led by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) in partnership with Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire councils.

The following key rules apply for the e-scooter trials:

  • Privately owned e-scooters remain illegal to use on roads, pavements, parks and any other areas. The only place that privately owned e-scooters can legally be used is on private land with the permission of the landowner.
  • Only e-scooters that are hired or leased through the West of England’s trial can be used legally on roads, cycle lanes or cycle tracks.  Effectively e-scooters that are part of the trial can be used wherever cycles are permitted.
  • E-scooters cannot be used on pavements.
  • E-scooters are classed as motorised vehicles and riders of authorised trial e-scooters must hold a full or provisional driving licence.

West of England Mayor Tim Bowles said: “I’m really pleased to announce Voi Technology Ltd will be getting our region moving as the operator for our e-scooter trials. This is an exciting prospect, bringing a new, low carbon way to travel around the region, and making it accessible for every community. This is a real benefit for our region while social distancing is in place on public transport, but also it’s a great opportunity to understand how they might help support my longer-term sustainable transport ambitions including our transformational MetroWest rail system and regional Mass Transit.

“We received a large number of strong bids and it was great to see that the West of England is viewed as a place to invest. Now we can get the trails on the road within the next few weeks.

“We have been talking with our colleagues from other combined authorities running e-scooter trials around the country in order to learn from their experiences, and VOI bring their own experience too which is valuable. We are working closely with our councils and Avon & Somerset Police to ensure that e-scooters are used responsibly as part of the trial.”

The exact start date for the trials is subject to discussions with VOI and authorisation from the Department of Transport, but it is anticipated that the trials will begin to be rolled out later this month.

The Swedish company Voi launched Europe’s first dockless e-scooter service in 2018 and now operates in more than 50 cities across 11 countries.

Fredrik Hjelm, co-founder and CEO of Voi Technology, said: “Voi will soon be coming to Bristol and Bath, two marvellous British cities of great economic and cultural importance, and we couldn’t be more excited about it. The pandemic has created a major transportation problem that Voi is helping to solve as we need a climate- and COVID-friendly alternative to a car-led ‘recovery’. The viable alternative is an e-scooter rental scheme which puts rider and public safety, as well as the climate, first.”